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Monday, 24 March 2014

Juhudi Kilimo helps in investing in rural area farmers

By Bob Aston
Lack of capital has been one of the major challenges faced by farmers in rural areas. Most farmers have been unable to access credit facilities hence unable to expand their agricultural activities. This challenge is now being addressed by Juhudi Kilimo which invests in farmers in rural areas.
Juhudi Kilimo began in 2004 as an initiative within K-Rep Development Agency, an NGO that performs research and product development for the microfinance sector. In 2009, Juhudi Kilimo became an independent for-profit company.
Farmers during Laikipia County Agri-business trade fair
Juhudi Kilimo finances specific agricultural assets that offer immediate and sustainable income for rural areas farmers. The assets act as an alternative form of collateral in case of default.
“Lack of capital is no longer an excuse for farmers. Asset financing is an innovative approach to poverty alleviation. Rural farmers are able to acquire farm inputs and other agricultural equipments through our asset financing,” said Jane Zakayo from Juhudi Kilimo.
Jane said that Juhudi Kilimo maximizes the benefit of asset financing by providing both technical assistance and business training. Prior to each loan, officers visit the client's farm to perform a business assessment and advice on improvements.
“Juhudi Kilimo clients are provided with targeted training on new assets, as well as group management and leadership and finance principles,” said Jane.
The first four meetings of a new group are then devoted to training clients on basic finance and business. After a loan is approved officers give continued support to farmers as well as offering them technical assistance on assets.
“We train on value chain and assist farmers to access tools that they need to scale up and succeed,” said Jane
Farmers being trained on new innovations
To aid its poorest clients, Juhudi Kilimo facilitates small loan amounts, payment installments, and savings deposits.
“We specialize in agriculture thus we have to ensure that we are on the ground to assess how farmers are doing,” said Jane.
Jane said that Juhudi Kilimo clients support each other through solidarity loan groups and they also co-guarantee member’s loans.
Juhudi Kilimo offers financing for the following assets; dairy farming like dairy cows, unit construction, milk pans, chaff cutters and cooling units. Livestock and fish farming like poultry, pigs and rabbits. Agricultural equipments like irrigation, water tanks, green houses, solar devices, bio-gas plants and posho mills. Farm transportation like motorcycles and bicycles.
“Each group must have a minimum of 15 members. We usually train groups for six weeks. Once they start harvesting we assist them by linking them to necessary markets,” said Jane.
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